Yesterday I posted Alecia Lynn Eberhardt’s blog on Facebook about why as a woman, saying “I have a boyfriend” when you want a man to leave you alone is problematic. I agreed with it.
I’ve been accused of demonising all men by the actions of a few. In short, i’m “pitting women against men”, which is an “outdated mode of fighting inequality” and “us against them won’t get us anywhere”.
This stale adage which is starting to make my teeth hurt also cropped up:
“There are bigger fish to fry.”
There is ONE fish to fry. Inequality. I’m frying it on all sides.
I can talk about FGM in the same breath as the fact that Bear Grylls has made a TV show about surviving a desert island with men only (because “it’s about man’s modern struggle”), as both are important.
They’re both symptoms of an unequal society which sees women as commodities or not as capable as men. We should be talking about every element of women’s struggle to be equal. We have to fight everything together at once.
Rape (notionally worse than ‘lesser’ sexist behaviour) happens because our sexist society teaches us that women are beneath men and that assumption festers in every small, ‘insignificant’ inequality.
I will NOT pick my battles.
I will not let the little things go. When a man in the gym asks my male exercise partner if he’s done on the machine and ignores me (yesterday), I will speak up.
The Facebook criticism of Alecia’s blog was that it implies that “all men are predatory and assume a knowing dominance and that women need to defend themselves against men.”
Talking about the actions of predatory men is not the same as saying all men are rapists. Calling out the sexism and misogyny rife in society is not the same as saying all men are sexists.
So what about men who aren’t predatory? The ones who don’t rape?
What about them? Should I congratulate each and every one of them for respecting my rights as a human being?
Let’s apply a similar question to another subject, for fairness’ sake. Because, being one of those people who actually thinks women should have the same rights as men, i’m terribly biased.
“What about dog owners who don’t beat their dogs?”
If a blog about dog cruelty is posted on the internet, I don’t imagine i’d hear the sound of dog owners around the world indignantly typing, “excuse me! I’m a dog owner that respects dogs!” But there’s no such thing as the dog owner’s ego, as far as I know.
If you don’t like hearing that men hurt women, tough shit, it happens, get used to it. I’m not going to shut up about it.
If you don’t like me telling you that men rape, help me change the culture that normalises violence against women by speaking up like I do. If you think my battles are trivial, take up one you think is more meaningful.
Patriarchy hurts men as well as women. It doubly hurts women when they are more focused on protecting the male ego than calling out inequality.